Demodex folliculorum

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Demodex folliculorum
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Order: Trombidiformes
Family: Demodicidae
Genus: Demodex
Species: D. folliculorum
Binomial name
Demodex folliculorum
(Simon, 1842)
  • Acarus folliculorum Simon, 1842[1]

Demodex folliculorum is one of the parasitic/commensal face mites that occur on people (the other one is Demodex brevis).[2][3] When large numbers of D. folliculorum are found on humans, the infestation is known as demodicosis.[4]


Demodex canis was first discovered in 1840 to cause mange in dogs. Tulk was the first to publish about Demodex in dogs. In 1842, a Frenchman named Berger discovered Demodex folliculorum in earwax.[5]


These mites are found in human hair follicles, normally found in greater numbers around the cheeks, nose, eyebrows, eyelashes, and forehead. They could also be found in other parts of the body such as arms, chest, and ears. It is a species of tiny mites that have been thought to contribute to hair loss (though this hypothesis is under debate)[6] and lives in pores and hair follicles. The mites vary in size from 0.1 mm to 0.4 mm long.[7] Mites do not invade internal organs. Under normal conditions, they are not harmful, and classified as commensals (the mite benefits but there is no harm or benefit to the host) rather than parasites (where the host is harmed), though under outbreak conditions (demodicosis) they can be harmful.


D. folliculorum is a semi-transparent, elongated organism consisting of a head, neck, body, and tail.[4] D. folliculorum is worm-like, with tiny claws, and scales over their entire body which allows it to anchor itself in the hair follicles. As an adult, D. folliculorum can measure 0.1 mm to 0.4 mm in length and possess four pairs of short legs near its head and neck region.[4] However, as a larva and/or nymph, D. folliculorum resembles the adult but has three pairs of short legs near its head and neck region.[4] The body and tail region of D. folliculorum is striated.[4]

Demodex folliculorum v. Demodex brevis[edit]

Both Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis are typically found on the human face.[8] Demodex folliculorum resides in hair follicles, whereas Demodex brevis survives in sebaceous glands adjacent to hair follicles. For instance, around the eye area, Demodex folliculorum is found in the follicles of the eyelashes. In contrast, Demodex brevis inhabits the sebaceous gland of the eyelashes and the meibomian glands. Demodex brevis was first separated from Demodex folliculorum in 1963 by Akbulatova.

Life cycle[edit]

The entire life cycle of D. folliculorum takes place in the time span of 18–24 days on its host.[4] During the day, they feed on dead skin cells within hair follicles. At night, they emerge onto the surface to mate and lay eggs in hair follicles. A female adult lays 20–24 eggs in a single hair follicle; as they grow they become tightly packed, and develop into larvae.[4] The larva is then washed by a sebaceous flow, produced by the host’s sebaceous glands, into the mouth of the hair follicle where it matures into an adult.[4] It takes seven days for the larva to develop into an adult that is ready to reproduce sexually.[9]

Whom it affects[edit]

Demodex mites are acquired shortly after birth and considered to be normal skin fauna that increase in number as people age. Almost everyone has a certain degree of the Demodex mite on their skin.[10] Heavy infestations of Demodex can arrive in adolescence, and could last up to middle age. The increase of their food supply (sebaceous glands proliferate during puberty) explains the increase of infestations of mites during adolescence. Hair follicles in all adults are infested, but the distribution of mites varies, which has a different impact on each person. Men are often more likely to have heavier infestations than women because they have more sebaceous glands, thus producing more food for the mites.[8]

A 2014 study found that 100% of people over age 18 in the study had mite DNA on their faces, suggesting that the mites are universal inhabitants of adult humans.[11]


  1. ^ Simon, Gustav (1842). "Ueber eine in den kranken und normalen Haarsäcken des Menschen lebende Milbe". Archiv für Anatomie, Physiologie und Wissenschaftliche Medicin. 1842: 231. 
  2. ^ "Demodex folliculorum". zip code zoo. 27 April 2009. Archived from the original on 22 August 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-31. 
  3. ^ "The Face Mite". h2g2. BBC. 3 March 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Demodex folliculorum". 2010. Archived from the original on 10 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  5. ^ Anthonie Cornelis Oudemans (1936). "Demodex folliculorum (Simon VI. 1842)". Kritisch Historisch Overzicht der Acarologie. Band C. Brill. pp. 1146–1179. 
  6. ^ Demodex folliculorum and hair loss[self-published source?]
  7. ^[full citation needed]
  8. ^ a b Dirk M. Elston (2010). "Demodex mites: Facts and controversies". Clinics in Dermatology. 28 (5): 502–504. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2010.03.006. PMID 20797509. 
  9. ^ "Disease caused by Demodex folliculorum". 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-07. [self-published source?]
  10. ^ Albert M. Kligman & Michael S. Christensen.; Christensen (2011). "Demodex folliculorum: requirements for understanding its role in human skin disease". Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 131 (1): 8–10. doi:10.1038/jid.2010.335. PMID 21157421. 
  11. ^ Thoemmes, Megan (27 August 2014). "Ubiquity and Diversity of Human-Associated Demodex Mites". PLOS ONE. 9 (8): e106265. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106265. PMC 4146604Freely accessible. PMID 25162399. 

Further reading[edit]